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VEI Reports Increased Revenues For FY14 PDF
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Australian News
Tuesday, 25 November 2014

VEIVision Eye Institute (VEI)'s revenue is up 3.3% from FY13 due to an increase in theatre procedures (day surgery revenue has increase $2.4 million 6.7%). Gross Margin was down 1.8% due to contract doctor payments increasing $2.6 million (13.9%) from FY13. The increase is from additional doctors and the continuing rebalance of clinic profit share with partner doctors. There were no significant variances in indirect costs, with the exception of legal costs, $2.0 m incurred during FY14 (FY13 $0.7 million). EBITDA declined $1.2 million due to lower margin and considerable legal costs incurred during FY14.

VEI's Gold Coast Theatre agreement with Ramsay was extended until 31 December 2015 at which time VEI will exit. VEI will also exit Southport consulting & refractive facility at that time. Opportunities to continue a day surgery and consulting presence on the Gold Coast continue to be explored. On 23 October 2014, judgement was made in favour of VEI in relation to its breach of contract claim, with Dr Kitchen's counterclaim dismissed. The amount of damages payable to VEI is still to be assessed by the Court and the judgement is now not expected until the first half of 2015.

Clinical Research Vital For Advancing Glaucoma Treatment PDF
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Australian News
Monday, 24 November 2014

Experts say that glaucoma practice, along with many other eye conditions managed and treated under the ophthalmology umbrella, can be improved with more clinical research. At this year's Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists (RANZCO) Annual Scientific Congress, keynote speakers Dr Richard Wormald and A/Prof Mark Daniell will provide in-depth lectures addressing clinical research and the benefits they can provide to ophthalmology practice.

"It is important that health practitioners maintain a focus on clinical research, especially systematic reviews," says Dr Richard Wormald.  "Clinical research can identify and tackle key clinical uncertainties that are holding back glaucoma treatment", Dr Wormald says. Glaucoma affects more than 300,000 Australians and will continue to grow unless new treatment and methods of detection are established through research.

"An ophthalmologist's training as a medical doctor as well as the added specialisation in treating eye conditions and visual impairments makes for the clinical research work that we need", says A/Prof Mark Daniell, stating that "most great ideas that revolutionise the way medicine and treatments are done have come from medical doctors working in research".

RANZCO's 46th Annual Scientific Congress will be held in Brisbane from 22 - 26 November 2014.

Optometry Australia to Launch Eye on CPD Business Unit PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Eye on CPDThe Optometry Board of Australia and AHPRA have announced the appointment of Optometry Australia (OA) as the preferred provider to manage the Continual Professional Development (CPD) accreditation function for the optometry profession on behalf of the Board. As a consequence, Optometry Australia is launching a new business arm, called Eye on CPD, to accredit the optometry profession's continuing professional development program. The three-year contract is expected to begin on 1 December 2014.

Optometry Acting Board Chair, Mr Ian Bluntish, said "We conducted a stringent and independent review process to ensure that all considerations pertinent to the optometry profession were carefully evaluated. OA exceeded most aspects of the evaluation criteria and therefore has been appointed as the program administrator for accreditation of CPD activities."

CEO Genevieve Quilty said Optometry Australia would be introducing a fee to all CPD service providers, both approved and non-approved. "We have undertaken the central aspect of this role—CPD accreditation—for many years, at no cost," she said. "Over the past four years, the volume of CPD offered to our profession has increased exponentially, making the 'no cost to CPD provider' accreditation model unsustainable for Optometry Australia. From 1 December, approved and non-approved CPD providers will be charged fees, as permitted in AHPRA's Expression of Interest released in October 2013."

Under the Eye on CPD business model, the fee structure for non-approved CPD providers is $150 per course of three hours or less and $750 per course of greater than three hours, with a $150 late application fee and a $50 repeat application fee. A flat fee applies to approved providers.

"Approved providers will be charged an annual fee of $2,000 for new monitoring and auditing services required under this tender," Ms Quilty said. Approved providers include Queensland University of Technology, University of New South Wales, The University of Melbourne, The University of Auckland, Centre for Eye Health, Australian College of Optometry, and Optometry Australia State Divisions.

Eye on CPD includes the development and implementation of an audit process for CPD activities provided by approved and non-approved providers. The audit component was a criterion of the AHPRA tender process and the fees charged will contribute to the cost incurred for auditing.

"We will be subcontracting the auditing task to an independent third party," Ms Quilty said. She said this would eliminate any potential conflict of interest, particularly as Optometry Australia’s State Divisions are approved providers and subject to being audited.

"Auditing will ensure providers are delivering what they promised: quality CPD. Optometrists, both members and non-members, will be receiving quality education."

Currently, optometrists must complete a minimum of 80 points of CPD activities over two registration periods. This can be met by undertaking accredited, non-accredited activities or a combination of both, as described in the Board’s Guidelines for continuing professional development for endorsed and non-endorsed optometrists. OA will issue certificates advising participants of the point score aligned to each completed CPD activity, thus helping participants meet the 80 point requirement.

Optometry Australia will continue to record CPD points for all members of Optometry Australia State Divisions, under the member hub, My CPD Record. From 1 December, Optometry Australia will extend the service to non-members for a nominated fee. "This is a service similar to that provided by other health-sector organisations, including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners," Ms Quilty said.

Concern of Eye Disease Among Indigenous Diabetics PDF
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Australian News
Wednesday, 12 November 2014

A retrospective study indicates indigenous Australians are outstripping the wider population when it comes to a serious eye disease caused by diabetes. Diabetic vitrectomies in South Australia and Northern Territory were found to be more common in indigenous than in non-indigenous Australians with diabetes.

A diabetic vitrectomy is a surgical procedure performed that removes the clouded vitreous gel in the centre of the eye when the disease has progressed to an advanced stage.

The preliminary results were announced by Dr Stewart Lake, Dr Tim Henderson and A/Prof Henry Newland, recipients of the Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia (ORIA)/RANZCO Eye foundation Indigenous Health Grant. The authors stated, "Indigenous Australians represent only 5.7% of the total population in SA and NT, but account for 25.2% of patients requiring diabetic vitrectomy, reflecting a drastic over representation of end stage diabetic retinopathy in the Indigenous Australian population". Alarmingly, indigenous patients are 10 years younger at the time of surgery. This is likely to reflect the earlier age of onset of type 2 diabetes in Indigenous Australian populations.

Indigenous patients requiring diabetic vitrectomy have more diabetes related comorbidities than non-indigenous patients requiring the surgery. A Danish study found that five-year survival rates have shown to be up to 10% lower than the general diabetic population1. The authors stated, "Diabetes patients reaching such severe ocular disease suffer equally advanced microvascular and macrovascular diabetic complications of other organs. 34% of Indigenous patients requiring diabetic vitrectomy were on dialysis at the time of surgery compared to 3.2% of non-indigenous Australians."

The retrospective clinical audit of vitrectomies performed for diabetic retinopathy in South Australia and Northern Territory will be completed over a 5 year period (2007 to 2011) for both the public and private sector. Data collection from Flinders Medical Centre and the Royal Adelaide Hospital has been completed so far, with data collection from private surgeons currently in progress. Preliminary results indicate that 2473 vitrectomies were performed during the audit period for 1916 patients. Of these total vitrectomies, 454 operations were performed for the management of advanced diabetic retinopathy.

The authors conclude, "The greater rate of diabetic vitrectomy in Indigenous Australians in South Australia and Northern Territory public hospitals is obviously secondary to a complex interplay of environmental and genetic factors, and cannot be explained purely by the well-known traditional risk factors." Once the audit in the private sector is completed, it will allow further evaluation of environmental factors including treatments prior to surgery.

There were over one million people with diabetes registered on the National Diabetes Services Scheme in September 20142. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare recently reported that Indigenous diabetes and chronic kidney disease death rates were over 3 times those of non-Indigenous Australians. The 2008 National Indigenous Eye Health Survey reported that 37% of Indigenous adults have diabetes of which 13% have already lost vision. Diabetic retinopathy is a complication of diabetes mellitus that damages blood vessels inside the retina at the back of the eye. It commonly affects both eyes and can lead to vision loss if it is not treated.

Wayfinding and Tactile Signage System Launched in Sydney PDF
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Australian News
Thursday, 30 October 2014

The City of Sydney has launched the first step in a comprehensive wayfinding and tactile signage network that will make the city more accessible for people of all abilities. The $8 million Legible Sydney Wayfinding System will link central Sydney streets using tactile and braille street signs, pedestrian-friendly maps, information pylons, new signs and digital technology. The first stage will be tested along two busy city routes.

With around 2,100 informative braille and tactile signs to be installed throughout the 26 square kilometre city area, the completed tactile sign rollout will be the most comprehensive of its kind in the world.

The new tactile signs featuring white lettering and braille on an aluminium plate appear on 38 poles next to pedestrian crossing buttons along the York Street test route between Druitt and Margaret streets. While the tactile signs are designed to primarily help people who are blind and vision impaired, it will also make street location information easier to access for everyone. The new signs will replace the current rubber panels installed in the early 1990s that have become worn out from use.

On the second test route, three pylons and 16 flag and finger signs will connect Wynyard Park and Walsh Bay near Barangaroo. The 1.5 kilometre route will travel from York Street, through the Kent Street underpass and along Kent Street to Hickson Road, Walsh Bay.

Pylons and tactile signs will also feature QR tags that can be used for digital links to City websites, Transport for NSW information and timetables and Destination NSW tourism information.

The signs were developed in consultation with Vision Australia and Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. 

Clinical Trial of Implant in Retinitis Pigmentosa Successfully Completed PDF
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Australian News
Monday, 27 October 2014

BVA Semi Portable CamBionic Vision Australia (BVA), a consortium of researchers working together to develop bionic eye devices to restore a sense of vision to people with profound vision loss, has announced the successful completion of the first clinical trial of its prototype 24-channel percutaneous implant in patients with profound vision loss from the eye disease retinitis pigmentosa (RP). RP is an inherited, degenerative eye disease that causes severe vision impairment and often blindness through progressive degeneration of the retina and death of the photoreceptors.

The two year Prototype 24-Channel Percutaneous Connector Study, which started in May 2012, involved three RP patients with profound vision loss (bare light perception only) who each received surgically implanted suprachoroidal electrode implants to aid the restoration of vision. Surgery was completed without any adverse events.

During the two year study, the implants were remarkably stable, with no significant movement, and were shown to be safe with no unexpected device-related serious adverse events observed. Although this was designed to be primarily a proof-of-concept and safety study, the trial also generated efficacy data showing that the device improved patient’s ability to see light and shapes, and helped with navigation around obstacles and detection of items on a tabletop search task.

"This study is critically important to the continuation of our research efforts and the results exceeded all our expectations," Professor Mark Hargreaves, Chair of the BVA board, commented. "We have demonstrated clearly that our suprachoroidal implants are safe to insert surgically and cause no adverse events once in place. Significantly, we have also been able to observe that our device prototype was able to evoke meaningful visual perception in patients with profound visual loss."

With this study complete, BVA has three other programs underway. The first of these, a 44-channel device will enter the clinic in mid-2015. The consortium is also developing a 98-channel device and a high acuity device.

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